The Power of Poetry - In Dr Rees' words

Posted: 24 July, 2017

Whenever necessary and possible I use poetry in clinic and teaching sessions with people who have experienced trauma and its significant, disabling after-effects.

We read poetry silently and aloud and employ copying and reciting to enjoy, share and discuss it, as if our minds are in motion and we can sail out once again from any harbour of trauma, disability and loss.

I have five broad aims in the use of poetry in this rehabilitation context and they include:

  • exploring poetry in order to savour the language used. We do this together - as consultant and client, teacher and student, doctor and patient - and endeavour to solve problems related to matters such as anxiety, anger, stress, depression, despair, dependence, isolation and loss; 
  • building the language repertoire of both client and consultant so that, over time, and because “the eyes and ears add to the tongue,” fresh language templates and codes are built for mutual use;
  • shaping a person’s psychological processes, because I believe that the imaginative and creative language of selected poets helps to influence a person’s perception, motivation, persistence, awareness, emotion and sense of self-worth. 
  • modifying behaviour, because I believe that language which is gentle, tender, loving, calming, action-oriented, descriptive, vivid, provoking or humorous can, where apposite, contribute to necessary restructuring of intra-personal language or self-talk, thought and, ultimately, behaviour; and finally, 
  • helping to structure communication between people through gesture, sign, symbol and the related interpersonal talk that contributes to and regulates affairs.

Roger Rees

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